From the Archives: Yes, there is a shortwave…!

Note: Jeff Murray and I posted this last Christmas–I thought it would be fun to dig it out of the archives for this Christmas as well.  Enjoy!


Virginia letter Dash

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no shortwave. Uncle DX Dash! says, “If you see it on the SWLing Post, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a shortwave?

Virginia E. Layer
330 Independence Ave., S.W.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a digital age. They do not believe what can’t be heard or seen on their smart phone. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by Google. They seek credit cards, not QSL cards.

Yes, Virginia, there is a shortwave. It exists as certainly as sound and circuits and tubes exist, and you know that these abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no shortwave! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no heterodynes, no band openings, no propagation to make tolerable this existence. It would be a world without London Calling.

Not believe in shortwave! You might as well not believe in the ionosphere. You might get your papa to hire men to listen to all of the wi-fi radios of the world, but even if you did not hear shortwave, what would that prove? The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see ground waves dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can casually conceive or imagine all the wonders there are heard and unheard in the listening world. For that, you must wear headphones.

No shortwave! Thank goodness! It lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, shortwave will continue to make glad the hearts of listeners.


Happy Holidays from your friends at Dashtoons and the SWLing Post!

With apologies to The New York Sun.  Our tongue-in-cheek editorial borrows from the timeless classic, “Is There a Santa Claus?” printed in the September 21, 1897, issue of The New York SunClick here to read the original

Make time for some holiday listening

Santa-Christmas-Radio

Remember that there are some unique broadcasts to tune to today and throughout the holidays. Here are a couple of note:

Of course, many of your favorite international broadcasters will also have holiday specials throughout the week.

If you like pirate radio listening, you’re in for a treat as well. Typically, there are numerous shortwave pirates on the air during the holidays–especially on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

What? You’ve never tuned in a pirate station before? There’s no better time than now to log that first pirate! Click here to learn how.

Did anyone hear the Grimeton VLF broadcast earlier today? Though it’s nearly an impossible catch for me State side, I still tried. Sadly, a long line of (unseasonal) thunderstorms moved into the region and I was forced to unplug my large external loop antenna in the wee hours of the morning.  I hope they had a successful broadcast.

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While we’re talking about radio and the holidays, I thought I’d also share this photo (above) that SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi sent in last week.

He and his wife made this cake for the annual office Christmas party. Mario comments:

“Since I am the ‘go to’ radio guy at work, we decorated the cake with various radio icons and slogans with the hope of putting smiles on everyone’s face.”

No doubt, your cake was a success!

Good cheer!

The SWLing Post has an international set of readers. While not everyone celebrates Christmas like my family, there seem to be many celebrations and festivals that happen this time of the year.

However you celebrate, here’s wishing you and yours the best of the season! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Jonathan shares archived Media Network Christmas and New Year shows

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, who shares the following from his Media Network Vintage Vault.

Jonathan writes:

“Picking up on the idea of revisiting archive Christmas and New Year shows, here are some from Radio Netherlands for the SWL Blog.

Seasons Greetings, Jonathan”

Media Network 26.12.1996 Boxing Day Show

A radio Christmas spent in the Media Network studio way back in 1996. Sounds like we were having fun! I look back on this period as perhaps one of the golden years for Dutch external broadcasting, producing a range of documentary productions in English and Spanish and recording great concerts, both classical and jazz.

This programme focussed on answering listeners’ letters on subjects like satellite television in Australia (DW was organising a bouquet of signals) and the major changes to the commercial radio scene in New Zealand. The auction of FM frequencies in the Netherlands and shortwave stations that sold radios were also topics for discussions. RBI archives have, for the most part, been destroyed. Swiss shortwave listeners were quizzed on their listening habits. The 410 ft tower formerly used by AFN has been dynamited out of existence. Capital Radio in South Africa is in trouble.

MN.28.12.1995 Rhodesia – Answering Back From Francistown

I met the late Harold Robin a couple of times at his home in Tunbridge Wells, UK. He was a brilliant Foreign Office engineer who built the wartime Aspidistra transmitter famous for its clandestine work out of Crowborough. Have a listen to the programmes Wartime Deception and you’ll see what I mean.

Although his work during the war is well documented in books like “The Black Game”by Ellic Howe, I think we managed to capture the other stories from later in his life. For instance, how he invented the “Picolo” modulation system as used by the diplomatic service to communicate text over shortwave between embassies. He also built the BBC Overseas relay station in Oman, and the external service of UAE Radio from Dubai. This edition, recorded after Christmas in 1995, looked at the story of the British response to the declaration of independence by Ian Smith in, what was then, Rhodesia. Harold talks about setting up a mediumwave transmitter in a matter of weeks in the town of Francistown, in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now called Botswana. Thanks also to Colin Miller for some of the recordings of the RBC. It seems that one of the two transmitters was sent to Cyprus after the World and Rhodesia operation ended, the other ended up in Ordfordness for some experiments on 648 kHz. You might also want to check out the video of Margaret Howard, who refers to a special programme transmitted over this MW sender. It was called the World and Rhodesia and was more of a UK government editorial than any programme the BBC would make. The programme concept didn’t work although it seemed to have taken the British government a couple of years to find out. Harold refers to staying in the Tati Hotel River Lodge, about 8 kms outside of Francistown. Sure enough, it’s still there.

MN.23.12.1982: Christmas Review 33 years ago

I picked this recording out of the archives because it has a nice capsule summary of the major media stories from 1982. The highlight was, of course, the Falklands-Malvinas “conflict”. This programme contains clips from the FIBS, RAE Argentina and the BBC’s Calling the Falklands Programme. We also looked in some detail at the short-lived Radio South Atlantic which broadcast in May and June 1982 from a requisitioned BBC transmitter on Ascension Island. We asked the British Ministry of Defence to explain how the station was operated. We also analyzed a transmission broadcast on May 20th 1982 (the second night of transmission).

But it was also the last programme in which Wim van Amstel appeared as RNW Frequency Manager. It was certainly not the last time he was heard on the programme, though. Again it is striking to hear some of the predictions – and how they were spot on. The call with Arthur Cushen in New Zealand is rather like making contact with the moon. Cannot believe how fast time has flown.

At the time of publishing this podcast, I was also sad to hear of the passing of BBC correspondent and broadcaster Brian Hanrahan, who famous line when broadcasting under censorship from the Falklands Fleet was brilliant. Unable to reveal how many British aircraft had been involved in the conflict, he reported that after one sortie he “counted them all out and I counted them all back.

MN.26.12.1991.Year End Review

This was a news show 1.6 million tune in to Radio Netherlands in Dutch during their summer holiday. WWV and WWVH have had problems with their automated time announcements. Drum recorders are back on line. Victor Goonetilleke has news about Cambodia. VOA is having challenges building its transmitters at a new site 50km North of Colombo.

Why did we broadcast all these numbers? People forget none of the listeners had access on-line and only a fraction of the audience had access to printed DX bulletins. Andy Sennitt reports on what is in the 1992 World Radio TV Handbook. James Robinson reports that several UK local radio stations are leaving mediumwave. WLS 890kHz is scrapping its FM format. A new Catholic SW station WEWN was being built in Birmingham, Alabama. (The late) Dave Rosenthal reports on an experiment in McMurdo. Remember this show is 24 years old!

Vasily Strelnikov signs off at Radio Moscow World Service and recommends people to tune into Radio Netherlands. Radio Moscow staff watch the red flags of the USSR being lowered.

Thanks so much for sharing these, Jonathan–and Season’s Greetings to you!

I’m looking forward to several hours of listening over the coming days.

December 24: Tune in NDR’s annual Christmas greetings program on shortwave

SX-99-Dial-Nar

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Harald Kuhl, who writes:

As in past years, German broadcaster NDR will transmit its domestic Xmas greetings program for sailors, Gruß an Bord (Greetings Aboard), on shortwave, December 24th.

Here are the frequencies from the official NDR press release [reception reports are encouraged]:

From 19.00 until 21.00 UTC (20.00 until 22.00 clock CET) on December 24, 2015:

FREQUENCY DESTINATION
6185 Atlantic – North
11650 Atlantic – South
9830 Atlantic / Indian Ocean (South Africa)
9885 Indian Ocean – West
9810 Indian Ocean – East

From 21.00 to 23.00 UTC (22.00 to 24.00 clock CET) on December 24, 2015:

FREQUENCY DESTINATION
6040 Atlantic – North
9655 Atlantic – South
9830 Atlantic / Indian Ocean (South Africa)
9515 Indian Ocean – West
9765 Indian Ocean – East

Reception reports are welcomed at gruss-an-bord@ndr.de.

Here are direct links just in case NRD changes a frequency:

http://www.ndr.de/info/sendungen/So-empfangen-Sie-die-Gruss-an-Bord-Sendungen,grussanbord326.html

http://www.ndr.de/info/sendungen/Gruss-an-Bord,grussanbord306.html

Bill recommends WBCQ

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Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bill (W8LV), who writes:

I hope the SWLing Audience out there is familiar with WBCQ, and owner Allan’s Show: Allan Weiner Worldwide. It is broadcast on WBCQ 7.490 every Friday at 8 PM EST. It’s a Free Form Show with an email and call in number.

Allan talks about anything that crosses his mind, and of course that includes radio with every show. All of the shows are also archived at www.wbcq.com, as are many of the other offerings of WBCQ.

I also want to mention that Former Pirate JP Ferraro has a show there called Shortwave Saturday Night.

There are also many other shows, both live and archived on the WBCQ website! Ham radio, Marion’s Attic with the old cylinder records, etc…

And, the merriment of Former NYC Pirate Johnny P. Lightning is heard on WBCQ every other Sunday from 8PM EST till 11PM, frequently with a pre-show that starts at 7:30PM. John also takes emails and calls. You can also catch John’s Show: Radio New York International, a.k.a. A Little Bit of Radio Everything Radio Extravaganzo live encores, with archived ALBORE
shows at the 11L Network site:
www.johnlightning.com

These are real radio people, folks. And WBCQ is such a wonderful station, currently broadcasting on three frequencies from Monticello, Maine.

I hope you tune in!

Bill, you’re right: WBCQ is an amazing independent shortwave broadcaster! WBCQ staff are all true die-hard shortwave listeners as well. A great bunch. I also tune to the shows you mentioned above–another one I love is beHAVior Night on WBCQ every Friday at 5:00 PM EST.

Thanks again, Bill!

How Far We’ve Come: Looking Back at Radiotelegraphy, 1939 Style

It’s often insightful to look to the past to fully appreciate the current technology we take for granted.

When we tap a favorite contact’s name in our mobile phone–even for someone on the other side of the world–we can be talking to them within seconds, with clarity that’s often the equal of visiting face-to-face. Perhaps Skype or FaceTime is more your style? Yawn… just another two-way, real-time video session. The fact that the other person is thousands of miles away no longer makes you pause at the wonder of it all.  Continue reading

Can you help Joel ID this Vietnamese station?

SX-99-Dial-Nar

SWLing Post reader, Joel, writes:

“Is there a section of SWLing Post for SWL’s who manage to catch a highly unusual broadcast about which some of your members may have information? I refer to catching an S4+ transmission in northern Vietnamese from 1600-1630 GMT on 11,840 kHz last November? As linguist, SWL, ham and retired foreign service officer, this one has me totally stumped.”

Joel, I’m hoping a reader can assist you with your question. My only guess would be that this was a Vietnamese broadcast from KTWR Guam.

Please comment if you can help Joel identify this station!